Compassionate Communication in Relationships – Ways to put it into Practice
Author: Hannah Aslin – MAC
Violent Communication. Sounds bad, doesn’t it? Violent Communication involves threatening, judging, dehumanizing, blaming, or coercing others in order to get our way in a situation. Within intimate relationships, violent communication can sneak in and turn into our go-to way of speaking to our partner, even unintentionally or without maliciousness.
Nonviolent Communication, also known as Compassionate Communication, according to Marshall Rosenberg, is “an ongoing reminder to keep our attention focused on a place where we are more likely to get what we are seeking”. Compassionate communication is extremely important in couples because it helps to enhance and strengthen the love relationship and takes us away from disconnecting and demanding and moves us toward compassion and understanding.
If you are wondering what you can do within your romantic relationship to improve your compassionate, nonviolent communication, below is a resource that might be a good place to start. This is an activity that you and your partner can try. Think of a situation that consistently causes tension or disagreement in your relationship, and then each of you take a turn practicing compassionate communication by following the steps provided in the resource below!
Something that really coincides with this exercise is needs and values. Here is a resource for you and your partner to gain a deeper understanding of your own particular needs and values that you can explore and share with one another:
Some Basic Feelings We All Have
Feelings when needs are fulfilled:
- Stimulated Surprised
Feelings when needs are not fulfilled:
Some Basic Needs We All Have:
Choosing plans for fulfilling one’s dreams, goals, values
Air, Food, Water, Shelter, Rest, Touch, Sexual Expression
Movement, Exercise, Protection from life-threatening forms of life (viruses, bacteria, insects, predatory animals)
Celebrating the creation of life and dreams fulfilled
Celebrating losses: loved ones, dreams, etc. (mourning)
Authenticity, Creativity, Meaning, Self-worth
Fun and laughter
Beauty, Harmony, Inspiration, Order, Peace
Acceptance, Appreciation, Closeness, Community, Consideration, Contribution to the enrichment of life, Emotional Safety, Empathy
An additional exercise that will help to practice and understand compassionate, nonviolent communication is a journaling activity. The point of the following activity is to increase our ability to express gratitude to our partner and do so through the use of compassionate communication. Here is the journaling activity that you can do individually and then share with your partner:
Think of something your partner has done which has affected your life in a way that you feel grateful for, OR, think of something your partner has done which you have complimented or might compliment them for. Express your gratitude or “praise” in NVC:
a. What did the person do?
b. How do you feel in relation to what he or she did?
c. Which needs of yours were met by this action?
d. How would you express this appreciation in your
own words including a connection request (i.e.ask for a reflection to ensure that the person heard the appreciation without any judgment, or to hear what it was like for this person to receive your appreciation to support full connection between you)?
(adapted from https://baynvc.org/free-worksheets/)
With practice, hopefully compassionate, nonviolent communication is the new go-to form of communication in your intimate relationships!